Sustainability Science

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 1057–1069 | Cite as

On the evaluation of adaptation practices: a transdisciplinary exploration of drought measures in Chile

  • Gloria Lillo-OrtegaEmail author
  • Paulina Aldunce
  • Carolina Adler
  • Marcela Vidal
  • Maisa Rojas
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Climate Change Mitigation, Adaption, and Resilience


A severe drought has affected central Chile since 2009. Various adaptation responses have been developed, and a participatory process is required to learn from them. To enable this, a transdisciplinary approach was adopted to achieve two objectives: first, to test an approach for assessing the effectiveness of existing measures to respond to drought, specifically to distil strengths and weaknesses of implementation, and developing recommendations; second, to reflect on results from a pilot project conducted to ascertain its potential for scalability in terms of processes employed. The research was organized per the three types of knowledge needed to address complex problems through transdisciplinarity: systems, target and transformation knowledge. Using the recent drought as a boundary object, we conducted the pilot in two locations in Chile where we carried out literature reviews, interviews and focus group discussions were carried out. We identified adaptation measures at national and local scale, a set of which were evaluated applying the Index for the Usefulness of Adaptation Practices (IUPA). Results indicate that through IUPA, we could systematically account for the perceived effectiveness of applied measures. Strengths such as autonomy in the decision-making process emerged as key factors that could also be applied in other contexts, whereas weaknesses such as lack of integration with other policy domains, programs or projects were identified. To address weaknesses, key recommendations were proposed, which are congruent with context-specific expectations, capacities, experiences and knowledge, given that they were articulated by local actors. Results present empirical evidence on the important utility of transdisciplinary approaches in the evaluation of adaptation measures and can support the development of metrics related to adaptation process at the local scale.


Evaluation of adaptation Drought Resilience Index for the Usefulness of Adaptation Practices (IUPA) Transdisciplinarity Chile 



This research was conducted thanks to the resources provided by the FONDECYT 2014 Project no. 11140394 and the Center of Excellence FONDAP-CONICYT no. 15110009 (Center of Resilience and Climate Research, CR2). We would also like to acknowledge the contribution from the Municipalities of La Pintana and Paine, and all the meetings’ assistants, who selflessly shared their experiences with this research. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Camila Carrasco with insights from her thesis work. We also acknowledge the thoughtful and constructive comments received by the two reviewers of this manuscript, whose feedback has helped to improve this paper for publication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Climate and Resilience Research (CR)2SantiagoChile
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and Natural Resources ManagementUniversity of ChileLa PintanaChile
  3. 3.Transdisciplinarity Lab (TdLab), Department of Environmental Systems ScienceETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  4. 4.Mountain Research Initiative, Institute of GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of GeophysicsUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile

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